Sunday, January 30, 2011

My worst job ever: The final chapter

(Read Part 1 and Part 2 to get caught up on the saga.)

Trish, another team manager, was beautiful. She had long curly hair, caramel skin and a body that would make Brooklyn Decker jealous. She spent more on a pair of boots than I paid for rent, and she looked like she came to work directly from the runway. An aspiring model, she pinned professional headshots of herself on her cubicle walls. (Seriously, who does that?) Trish was only beautiful on the outside.

Scene from Mean Girls movie
Trish was what my friend, Whitney, and I would call “captain of the mean girl lunch table.” You remember that girl from high school. The gorgeous, popular one that all the girls wanted to be like and be liked by. The one who could make or break your fragile reputation with a smile or a 
sneer, and more often than not, she would use her power for evil. Trish was our office mean girl.

She was very nice to me at first, taking me lunch and under her wing. Trish said she felt bad for me and wanted to help. I was foolishly grateful. She watched me closely and offered advice, but I soon realized she had me doing her work for her. She stole the accounts she helped me acquire, she told me to focus on other accounts that she knew were a lost cause, and behind my back she reported to D.B. that I was “un-teachable.”

Prom scene from She's All That
Life lesson #5: As we all know from decades of high school movies (that always seem to end in oddly choreographed dance scenes), the main mean girl never really wants to be your friend. Ever.

A couple years after I left that job, I saw Trish at a dance club in Oakland one night. (What the hell I was doing in a dance club in Oakland is another story.) Trish ran up to me and gave me a huge hug like were long lost friends. Chingy’s awful song “Right Thurr” was playing (and had everyone talking like idiots for months). “Melissa!” she shrieked. “It’s so good to see you out hurr! We should really get togethurr!” Then she started laughing manically, like she came up with that joke. Trish seemed drunk and probably high on something. She didn’t look beautiful anymore. Her skin was splotchy, face sunken, hair knotted, eyes wild. She couldn’t even focus on my face. She was jittery and could barely stand in her four-inch heels. As she stumbled away, my hatred for her melted into pity. Now, whenever I hear Chingy, I think a) this song really sucks, and b) poor Trish. And I feel sad.

Anyway, back in Hellhole, 2001, Jill and I had formed an alliance. (I was really into Surivivor at the time.) We focused solely on each other’s accounts, and within a few weeks our conspiring paid off. She had an account with a start-up that needed an electrical engineer, and I recruited a kick-ass EE just the day before. The planets aligned and my guy got the job. Whoo hoo! After four long months, I finally made a placement, and that Jill and I were going to spilt the commission made it even sweeter. (The last thing I wanted to do was share a commission with any of those other assholes.) Everyone in the office cheered, our names went up on the board, and D.B.’s radio blared “Bling, Bling” in our honor.

Once the hoopla settled, D.B. called Jill and me into the dreaded conference room. “Don’t think I don’t know what you’re up to,” he said. “All of the sudden, you two are all buddy-buddy. I hear you on the phones, and I know you’re only recruiting for each other’s accounts.” Jill and I were stunned. “I suggest you start recruiting for all the promising accounts in this office, or I’ll tell everyone what you’re doing, and you know they’ll turn on you in a heartbeat. Things will get real miserable for you real fast.” My moment of glory fizzled down into a lump in my throat. I didn’t want to imagine how he could make things more miserable.

Outside the office, game face removed, my misery was no secret. My good friend from college, Stacey, suffered through my daily tales of woe. One day she swooped in and rescued me, red cape and all. Her father was the head of HR at a hard drive company. She had told him that I was too smart to be that miserable at a job (aw, thanks, Stace!), and asked him to help me. He interviewed me for an administrative assistant opening on his team, promising there was potential to move up fast (a promise he kept). I would’ve cleaned toilets if he had asked me to. My new job would start after January 1st, which was six weeks away.

Life lesson #6: Let people help you. That’s what friends are for, and you’d do the same for them.

Life lesson #7: A foot in the door can turn into something really fantastic. Have an open mind. 

The idea of staying at Hellhole for six more weeks was too much to bear, but so was six weeks without some sort of paycheck, especially with the holidays looming. So Jill and I concocted yet another plan. We both called in sick one day (because no one would find that suspicious at all) to peddle ourselves around the mall in search of temporary gigs as a retail holiday employees. Victoria’s Secret was our first choice because of the thirty-percent employee discount. We asked the manager for applications, but instead she led us into the back room and interviewed us both on the spot. Within moments, we had temp jobs as VS sales associates and were filling out new employee paperwork. Everyone got underwear for Christmas that year.

We had accomplished the day’s mission within an hour, so Jill and I spent the rest of the day shopping and working on our “I quit” plan. We knew from watching other colleagues quit that there would be no two-week notice. Once someone quit, D.B. wanted them gone immediately, and he spent the next several days talking shit about them. We decided it would look bad to quit on the same day, so we agreed that Jill would quit the next day and I would quit two days later. Not sure why we cared, but it sounded ingenious at the time.

The next morning, Jill and D.B. came out of the conference room, him fuming and her grinning. “Bye, everyone – ” she started to say to the office, but D.B. cut her off. “Bye, back-stabber,” he said. “You can go now. This isn’t your podium.” Jill just smiled and said, “Okay then.” She winked at me and left. I was proud and jealous of her. Two days later, it was my turn.

As much as I looked forward to quitting that job, I was scared to death of D.B. When I asked if I could speak to him, he smirked. “Looks like we got another faint-of-heart jumping ship,” he bellowed, and everyone watched us walk into the conference room. I kept it brief. We both knew I wasn’t cut out for sales, I had found a salary job in HR, and it was no longer financially feasible for me to work on a draw. He stayed quiet for a moment, looking down at the table. He slowly looked up at me and said, “I knew you’d stab me in the back, just like Jill did. Damn, you two. After I everything I’ve done for you, this is how you repay me. Whatever, I don’t care. Get your stuff and get outta here. Now.”

I nodded silently, and he followed me back into the office area. I had discretely packed up my desk the night before, so I just grabbed my purse. As I started toward the door without saying goodbye to anyone, he purposely said to the group loud enough for me to hear, “Well, there’s one less disloyal c*nt I have to worry about wasting my time.”

WHAT??!I Did that asshole really just call me a “see-you-next-Tuesday?” I spun around and glared at him. “What?” he asked, feigning innocence. “I wasn’t talking to you.” My mouth agape, I just shook my head at him and turned back toward the door. Dead silence behind me, I walked out of Hellhole for the last time. I got into my car and cried, tears mixed with anger and joy, all the way home.